Montreal, Wednesday, December 3, 2008—Premier Jean Charest will be in good company during the last few days of the Quebec election campaign. Urgences-santé (EMRs) union cut the ribbon, this morning, on its “election” bus, which will travel throughout Quebec right behind the Liberal leader’s caravan. It boasts three large banners on each side and audio-video equipment for presenting a film about the difficult work they do and broadcasting the union’s message. Three people, including the union’s president, will be on the bus during this dynamic campaign.
“We told them we would be dogging them throughout the campaign,” explained Martin Doyon, president of the union. “After the demonstrations, we’re launching our own election tour!” Every Liberal stop, the EMRs will be highly visible, displaying their banners and distributing pamphlets to raise public awareness. They’ve even set up a blog—www.caravanermu.blogspot.com—where they’ll post comments, photographs, and videos on their activities.
CUPE believes the message to Minister Bolduc and Jean Charest is crystal clear. “It’s a priority issue for us. These employees have been without a contract since December 2003. Their salaries have fallen way behind those of EMRs in Canada’s other large cities, and they earn 32% less than 9-1-1 technicians at the City of Montreal. They deserve to be recognized for their true value, and we will do everything necessary to make sure these professionals are treated fairly,” added Michel Poirier, CUPE Québec regional director and vice president of FTQ.
Pierre Soucy, the president of Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS), pointed out problems with responder turnover. “The rate is catastrophic! We lose at least 50% of new recruits before the end of their probation period. In April 2007, there were 52 responders to serve the population; today there are only 44 and we’re going to lose two more at the end of the month. In fact, it is much more costly for Urgences-santé to train new responders than to pay them enough to stay. It is a completely irresponsible way of managing public funds,” he concluded.
The EMRs invite the public to visit their website at www.appuyonslesrmu.com, where they can watch a hard-hitting video about what EMRs face every day.